I bet you thought I’d died–but i’ve been drawing!

So I started this blog to record my process and thoughts that go a little further past my IG posts, but lately I’ve been focusing on building my 2D skills, and you can only have so many “I DREW ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL ASS” posts. That being said, I have been progressing a lot and am SUPER STOKED to admit, I just finished my sketchbook. You know, the one I started in April.  That’s at least a drawing a day, a personal best since ever.  Usually I go through a book a year. Not counting my last year at college and into into the real world, in which I finished one sketchbook over 3 years. Just the progress alone in these three months with such dedicated work amazed me.

Of course I left my completed sketchbook (“compeleted” the plans for my sculpture on the last page are half doodled) in my studio, and am only out and about with the new one. (it’s so perfect and unused. Time to change that.)

okay I’m going to derail real quick because I’m just so excited about finishing a sketchbook in <3 months. Go find the centered * to skip the derailment and continue reading about my progress. So about a week ago I realized I was getting down to my last few pages.

     “pffffft,” I told myself, “you’re crazy,  it’s only been 3 months–if even!”
but I continued drawing until the papers felt suspiciously thin.

Now I store a million and a half reference images along in my sketchbook.  Usually I keep them full sized on a sheet of printer paper and just shove them at the back.  So, when I get to the end of the book there’s usually an odd bow where the printer paper isn’t as big as the sketchbook paper. Well, I reached this phenomena and instantly panicked.  “I NEED A NOW BOOK ASAP”

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but If I get distracted while I’m on a roll, I never finish.  My thesis was really hard in this respect, because I couldn’t do everything in a single stretch.  Damn my other college classes getting in the way.  It’s the same no matter what material I’m working with. Ceramics? If I leave the studio, good luck ever getting a cup trimmed.  Online Dating? Don’t find someone interesting and respectful to meet within my first two weeks of constant social interaction? Delete the app.  Essay? Sit down and write it all in a single sitting, or I’ll start over the next time I sit down to work.

Oddly enough food and TV I’m great at abandoning and coming back to.  Mid reveal in a telenovela–hold up I have to go write a grocery list, start a new diet, become a world famous model, ruin my career endorsing a medication proven to cause cervical cancer a few years after it hit markets, move to southern France, ruin my life by falling for an Italian Bartender who only wants me for my greencard, sell my hair for grocery money and wonder if I’m poor enough yet for affordable obamacare–okay lets see if julio’s actually the father.

So my point–if I don’t replace my sketchbook before I finish the last three pages I may never ever draw again, and I was finally getting where I wanted to me. UNACCEPTABLE.

My point in all this, I’ve been carrying around my new sketchbook and my old one all week while waiting for it to fill up, and it’s still in new pristine shape.  You know, where the corners are all still sharp and the cover understands it’s purpose is to stay ON the book. (I’m really rough on my travel sketchbooks.)

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SO PROGRESS! At the begining of the April 2016 sketchbook there’s a full page drawing of a naked woman.  She was intended to be the base for some outfit, but I was pooped from how much effort it took me to make her acceptable looking.  By the end of the book, my drawings still look pretty much the same, and sometimes still take me just as long, but the effort it took to produce them was so much less.  I’m impulsively drawing bodies to try out different outfits.  I actually wanted to draw a whole new body the other day over digitally just drawing an outfit over an already drawn body.  That NEVER used to happen.  3 months!

I’m debating which state I want to get my teaching license in, and it really makes it hard to decide when I know I’ll have to sacrifice my drawing time to being an adult and taking classes after work.  I really don’t want to get stuck in the “no time to draw” rut I was in after college, but life has to happen unfortunately.

OKAY SO A LITTLE BIT OF A VISUAL CIRCUS

Because I’ve been sch a horrible blog owner of late, I don’t have all the images I’d usually have at my fingertips available to me right now, but everything’s on my Instagram Amarnaphiliac, with finals and less progress updates on my IG for Art only Xandirose.

That being said,

Going back furthest, I wanted to try colouring using mostly just watercolours and limiting my use of line.

You’ll notice, there’s no lineart.  I actually didn’t realize that I was working linelessly until after I finished and was putting lines back in.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget my freshman year drawing class in which my professor told me I wasn’t allowed to draw lines.  I looked at him like he was a crazy person.
“If I can’t draw lines how on earth am I expected to differentiate this half of the white paper form that half of the paper, crazy man.  I need the line to tell me where to shade. DUR.”
Well, now I realize what he was saying.  I think I’d still have the same reaction to his telling me I’m not allowed to lay down any prelim shapes with line before adding shadow though. I don’t view shapes, I view lines.  Maybe I just haven’t gotten there yet, but I certainly didn’t even understand the concept at 18.
This painting’s also on a larger toothed paper by strathmoore instead of canson.  I was so disillusioned with my canson sketchbook, I knew I needed to test out other brands to see if it was a skethbook fluke or if I was just content with lower quality products. Well, I haven’t really used much paints since this drawing, so I’m still not sure. The paper feels amazing though.

After the watercolour test I decided to try doing the exact same drawing with markers, for a really good comparison. Like vs like.

Well, I forgot my e000 marker when I started this, so I tried to fudge it with e00 and e02, but it’s far too pink for my liking.  Looking back in retrospect though it looks alright.  I may have acclimated, time will tell.

Markers really required me to think a lot more about where I wanted a harsher line, which i think is difficult if you’re not thinking in shapes.  Where it hurt me most was in the face.  I really dislike her hair and face in this drawing.

After this I was supposed to do a third style with Tifa, but I got distracted my my online dating app prospects asking me about aeris in their opening lines. I already had aeris all sketched up and ready to do the same as tifa, so I forwent the third study.  I think it was supposed to be a pencil and paint/marker multimedia peice that featured the pencils as the source of shadows.

Now when I started aeris I was watching video tuts for how Hannah Alexander does her lineart in PS. One of my jobs is basically a receptionist, and there’s rarely 8 solid hours worth of filing, so I doodle between files and phone calls.

I really really like my doodle product.

You can see some of the art nouveau changes I made to my style combined with what I’d learned about shadows from copics it lead to something really new and cool. I’m particularly proud of the fact that I got these nice hombres using office supplies on printer paper scraps.

But, because of this doodle success aeris ended up being edited to an art nouveau style.

I came full circle, back to heavy lines that the drawing would look odd without, but the results were really nice. I felt like the heavy stylization helped to distract a little from some of the mistakes I realized–of course–after the point of no return.

At this point I’m having so much drawing these pretty women that I decide to do something really daring. A MAN.

I can’t draw men.

They always end up looking like a have transitioned trek trek shapeshifter who couldn’t make up its mind.

So imagine my surprise when beardy Mc sad face Blackwall actually turned out okay.

Yeah there’s things to improve on, but he looks like a man, and not a freaky bearded woman.  I never stopped to think about beards before drawing this though.  They’re really kind of odd. I was sitting there pen in hand like “so . . . does the hair sprout out from under their lip? Is he going to end up eating his mustache is I draw it like this? Oh great now he’s a werewolf!”
I learned a lot, and realized I need to start sitting closer to my guy friends to stare at their faces.

Okay so morrigan is a little out of production sequence, she was actually before Aeris, but I drew basic lines how I usually do and coloured flat blocks with marker, going back in with pencil to create shadows.

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It’s a really nice technique that combines my two favorite elements of both materials.  I can’t colour large areas in pencil, no patience.  I don’t like blending markers, too bold. Combining my strong points in both materials I may be able to really take this somewhere.
I think the only thing I really changed since taking this picture was smoothing out those feathers a bit. I have a bit of a backlog for digitizing and recording my traditional works, but finished Morrigan will be online before too long.

After all this figure drawing traditionally, I decided to go back and work on my self portait I started a while ago.

I resurrected my old Deviant art a little while back, and realized my last ID picture was so old, my hair wasn’t even red. I’ve had red hair for at least 5 years at this point, so it was an old pic. Obviously my new ID has to have jellyfish, so off I went to doodle.  I don’t really like this picture anymore so I’ll probably nix it without finishing colouring, since I still don’t really find joy int he process of digital painting,only the results. What I DID take away from this piece though was how to make things look like their glowing.

Naturally, glowing jellyfish.

I needed a new sign for my etsy shop, so why not? Alright, my etsy shop still needs a more descriptive banner than my name and some jellies, but i really like this for the moment, so it can live atop my shop a while longer.

I’m incapable of being satisfied with a drawing, so when I saw the dalish banners in Dragon Age inquisition, I knew I had to make one.

If you haven’t played before, they look like this:

Gorgeous right? I needed a miniature version for myself.

The first problem I ran into is what to make it out of.  I could sculpt all the pieces out of clay, but for whatever reason I knew I’d mess it up and decided tha plexi would work better.  Because it’s impossible to mess up plexi? I’ll make a stand alone post about this process, because it’s lengthy.

Last but not least, a drawing from today that I actually just finished that’s pretty much 100% copied from Ste7en Lefcourt’s design on teefury.

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My friend loves winnie the pooh and pokemon, but hates ash and pikachu so I doodled her with her charmander instead and wanted to colour it. (thus the rush job and repairs to take care of when I get home with the rest of my supplies.)
Pretty sure I’m just going to shove the drawing in her arms and run away before she can tell me she doesn’t want it, haha. YOUR RESPONSIBILITY NOOOOOOOOOOOW!

But actually I bought a new pen to do these sepia lines and realized I really really really like felt brush tip pens.

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This pen is a prisma colour on canson watercolour paper, but those lines are really nice. I may have to get one in black too now.

That’s it for my progress post, check back for info about that dalish banner and my other Dragon age fabric peices I’m about to start. Also I’m taking a ceramics course and finally managed to reteach myself to center clay on the wheel.  So Expect cup and bowl spam soon.

PS. oh lordy I’m so hungry right now.  I’m on a new diet to lose 15 lbs and I did not bring enough lunch to keep me full until after class. if only my car didn’t kill any fruit I store in it over the summer, I could keep a snack stash.

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Digital on the Horizon!

As I said I would, I’ve been working the human figure and drawing the last few . . . increments of time.

Finally it dawned on me. WHY HAVEN’T I BEEN BACK IN THE GROOVE OF DIGITAL?

I wanted to do the Dragon Age clothing meme. I’ve wanted to do it for a while.  My little non-inquisitor/Non-warden Elf  has been dying to pull out her wardrobe and put it on display.  (I have so many sticky notes with the different veils she owns drawn on them, haha).  The thing for these meme’s is i really like it when it’s the same body over and over, with the focus purely on the fashion. Traditionally, then means a lot of lightbox and tracing. I love my lightbox, but I hate repetition.

Then it hit me, as I looked through digital after digital meme. Chika, you have some silly little computer all set up to draw, why have you don’t nothing but little edits here and there?

Digging out my old tablet I set to work with a new lineart tutorial I’d watched on youtube months ago. Me being me, I didn’t save the video, as I thought “eh, I’m not going to work on this now. Maybe later” and closed it, and forgot it.

Well I remembered her advice well enough. Zoom in and join several shorter strokes, undoing every time the stroke is wobbly or unnatural. just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . . .

Alright so here’s the primary things I changed when I did my lineart this time, versus in the past.

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So I’m a moron, and forgot to check the size of my image before starting, so my lineart’s not big enough to go on a really big print. GUYS DON’T BE STUPID LIKE ME. I scan everything in as big as my scanner will allow me though.

That being said, the things I changed in this drawing that are GOOD changes are as follows:

1. I didn’t play the ‘draw black lines on a graphite drawing with an opaque layer of white on top’ game. What that means, if you’ve never done this trick, is basically you load up your original sketch, open a new layer above it and bucket paint it white, then you bring the opacity down and until the original lines are really pale, and draw you lineart over top of these in a new layer with the black brush.

I mean, I suppose it works, but I liked what I did more.

So my original drawing was in pink. I’ve started drawing in pink. I’m not sure exactly WHY it helps, but it does. I created a new layer above my pink drawing and drew the line art over top in Blue. I got really nice distinction and could easily see what I was doing, much better than black on grey.

2. I drew the next element in pink on top of the blue lines. There was really something helpful about changing the colours of each element as I drew it.  Set it apart before I blended it all together.  There was no confusion about “well maybe that was a hair . . .  or an earlobe”.

3. This is the change I’m really stoked about. I DON’T KNOW HOW I NEVER NEW ABOUT THIS. Are you ready for the big reveal?

CLIPPING MASKS

So I don’t know how many times I’ve decided I want to change the colour of some thing or mess with it, but get frustrated with how the wand tool leaves little fuzzies around everything, no matter how I set the tolerance.   Plus it felt like a waste of efficiency. But masking it out felt wasteful too. Little did I know the solution was clipping masks.

I was finally able to do line art the same colour as the object it referred to and efficiently highlight and add to shapes. I actually learned about clipping masks from this video, which I liked to because of item number 4.

4. Brushes. I’m not sure how much difference my choice of brush made, using his as opposed to basics, but I’m going to blame my success here on Tsaoshin. (click the link to go to his brushes download on Deviant art)

Plus, his soft colouring brush finally enabled me to understand how digital artists got that one particular look. kinda a soft layered blend, I dunno. I’ve been dying to be able to make that mark for years. NOW I HAVE ALL THE SECRETS.

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From there I continued on my merry little way (don’t look at the clock. you’ll see what a slow worker I am. I totally don’t watch spanish rom coms while I work at all. nope. Deeeeefinitly not brittish hisorical dramas either. Definitely not.)

After about 5 hours my hand was frozen solid and I reached that impatient stage, where you’re supposed to put it away and go to bed, but I didn’t want to.  It really doesn’t help I’m using my old Bamboo tablet from 2007 and DEAR GOODNESS is that tech old. It was amazing and innovative and caught everyone’s attention on the airplane when I first bought it, but touch tech has improved SO MUCH in the last (oh my goodness) 9 years. (i feel old)

I think I only put in another hour or so before rolling into bed to read mangas I used to read in 2007. (i really didn’t intend for it to be a flash back nigh,t but it wanted to be)

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So there it is, outfit number 1! And the nice thing about the way I did this, there’s legs under that skit that I can quickly put pants on. No having to draw them out.

All in total I’m SUPER STOKED about how well this turned out. Is it the most amazing artwork I’ve ever seen? Not yet, but for me working digital seriously for the first time in years with my glitch-y little bamboo, I just see forward momentum beyond my expectations.

(ignore that beige stripe of sketchbook paper on the last image xD I quickly converted this working file to jpeg at 2 am)

I feel like I may even have to open up a new Deviant art so I can post the final meme. Is DA actually still alive? I only go on there now for resources. OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO OLD. I FART DUST AND DON’T KNOW WHAT SITES ARE HIP. I actually had to watch a buzzfeed video to find out what ‘On fleek’ meant. It’s the beginning of the end.

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Convention Reflection

So earlier this month (wow is it that long past already?!) I went to my first convention as a vendor. Surprisingly it was waaaaay more exhausting than I expected, though I might chalk that up to the 2 hour commute in and out of the city.

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So I had everything planned out to the smallest detail, so despite all the problems I ran into during set up, it was relatively fast and stress free.  My space was way smaller than I expected, and I thought that the table top would match the skirt, but it all worked out.

What I didn’t expect was my $30 wands sold way better than my $5 prints. I had one woman come up to me and ask what she was supposed to do with one of my prints. uh, hang it up? It never dawned on me that con goes look for that poster size and don’t understand the framing process.  There must be a large population of people who just tape their art to the wall and consider it a success. I mean, I used to be one of those people, but not with convention artwork.  Just printouts and commercial posters. So I’m thinking for my non poster size fine art prints I probably need to frame each one and have that be part of the display. “Look! Giclee prints! FANCY! MAKE YOUR LIVING ROOM NERDY BUT CLASSY!”

The other thing I think I didn’t understand the full importance of was continuity of the table. I wanted by table to look full and hopefully get rid of some backlogged stock, so I brought out all sorts of things I’d made.  Some people would walk past, look at whatever was closest to them, and never look up at the prints! Clearly repetition of designs is important.  Once I’d sold some wands I started putting prints on the table where people could see as they walked past eyes downcast, and I actually sold a lot more that way!

I didn’t sell any fully framed pieces, mostly because of the price.  I had to takers for my cross stitch Charmander, but ultimately they didn’t have the funds. Also though, Americans just don’t understand haggling.

A paraphrased conversation I had with one gentleman

“I love it, but I just don’t have that much money right now.  Just bought this other thing.”

“Well what would you want to pay for this item them, I’m willing to negotiate in order to send you home with it.”

“I couldn’t take away your money or devalue your art.”

“No, no don’t worry about that.”

“No, it’s worth every bit of what you’ve priced it at.”

“How about this, Special just for you today I’ll take $50 off the top. Better than any sale I’m offering!”

“No, I can’t do that to you.”

Okay so before anyone who’s ever been harassed by a sales vendor gets mad at me for being persistent, I totally understand him not having the money, but really just say a second time that you don’t have the funds. In a haggling community 2-3 “i can’t afford that”‘s means ‘I want a lower price’.  The vendor always knows his lowest price point, and is willing to let a sale walk if there’s no profit.

Oddly enough, for all the American public likes to abuse retailers and get free things, they feel like it’s insulting to haggle with an artist.  The artist will tell you no if they’re not negotiable on price.

The flip side is true too though. If you are going to haggle with an artisan, respect their effort and skills.  If they’re charging $200, don’t offer $50.

BACK ON TRACK

I think I got a kinda lousy spot at the back of the event, a lot of people never walked down my alley or never made it that far back at all. Regardless, the woman two tables down from me made a KILLING. She had easily 30-40 designs she was selling that were going like hot cakes at $10-20 a print. My first convention I bought art very similar to hers, so for a staple that sells that simple vector style really works. It’s not my thing though.

“You’re an artist first, not a businesswoman!” I kept having to repeat to myself “learn what sells then modify your work to reflect the market, but stay true to your art”

It kills me, but I think my takeaway is to change my print quality so I can offer larger prints at a more competitive price. 11×14 seemed to be popular, but for Giclee I’d have to charge a lot more than the others.  For my style and lack of internet fame, I don’t see the business sense in that investment at this time. I’ll still have some prints in Higher quality, simply because I feel like they deserve that attention for their market, but the next 11 months will be focusing on a portfolio of prints that I wouldn’t be betraying my buyers to have paper and ink that won’t last forever and ever and ever.

 

My next question then begs the attention: if I focus on a different type of print with lower production costs, how will I present the two side by side? After all, the Giclee’s are marvelous art works IMO and I still want people to buy and enjoy them (I certainly can’t hang up 10 copies in my house)

Conundrums for future Xandi.

Also, CREDIT CARDS. I didn’t realize how many people didn’t carry cash on them at conventions anymore.  I had trouble with my card reader once and the person decided not to come back with cash, same thing happened to the girl next to me. I had one boy ask if he could swipe his card to buy a $3 bookmark. I ended up coming home with waaaay more change than I expected, simply because no one used cash.

Okay I know it’s considered indecorous to talk money but I’ll put it out there, since I know I needed this info when I was researching.  At this event I made about $480 (total, not profit).  Not a bad take away IMO for my first time ever as a vendor. The credit card to cash split was about $280 card to $200 cash. So it was pretty close, but I lost about $35 to a card reader being down.  So without that card reader at all I’m pretty sure I’d have been down at least $200. I didn’t actually have a card reader either though, I had to manually type card numbers into the etsy app. I was really worried people wouldn’t feel comfortable with me typing their card numbers in and would cancel the sale because of that, but it never happened. That being said, I made sure to always type it in where they could clearly watch me doing it but others could not see their numbers, and then immediately gave them back their card.

I’ll edit in anything I can think of that I considered important, but that’s most of the big takeaways that I’m working on for next year. If there’s any new convention vendors out there who want to ask me about my first experience vs an experienced con go-er don’t hesitate to message me! Fastest results if you go through Facebook though. I live on there, haha!

I’ll say this, I’ve never been as tired from just sitting in a chair for three days as I did that weekend.

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I HAVE BEEN GONE FOREVER BUT I’M BACK

I didn’t realize until today That I haven’t posted anything this month. Wow Xandi really? Nothing?

I have been a zombie in a slump of adulting.

Between jury duty, covering extra shifts, convention, and visits from family members who are normally cloistered monks I have been a busy bee. I just started my new ceramics class though! Expect to see all my fun 3D pots and maybe sculptures on the horizon!

Let me catch you up to speed with Lazy Xandi though.

Lazy Xandi has been . . .

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Finally finishing this piece she posted about eons ago, and getting it photographed.  I changed out a few of the jellies that didn’t fit and reframed some others. Getting a profession picture of this work in my tiny studio is really hard, but you do what you can.

Lazy Xandi has been . . .

Activly following Torianne00 and Frannerd (who she should really do an artist spotlight on because they’re turning into great influences as well as already phenominal artists). And while following them I decided to try out different styles and practice techniques based on watching them work. You’ll notice my switch to pink pencil and the ability to do more line-less work.

Lazy xandi has been . . .

Doing the exact same thing as the above image, just with a different style and subject matter. This setting is all conglomerated straight out of one of Frannerd’s works. MY philosophy is, if you see it and like it draw it yourself.  Then even if you forget it later in life, your hand and brain will remember the essence of what you loved. Also drawing in someone else’s style always helps me to realize new things about line and shape I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Frannerd’s little mini settings are something I really want to incorporate into my usual art.

Lazy Xandi has been . . .

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Trying to find closure in old works, but just ending up adding one element and then setting them aside again.

 

So there you have it, some of what I’ve been doing all June, minus the cleaning and Aquascaping. Oh! I dyed my hair too! . . . It’s still red. I just finally stopped being lazy and actually fixed my roots.

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